The most fundamental of human needs after physical sustenance is that of affirmation. People have need to sense a conscious reality, to perceive permanence and to belong. It is primarily why people have gathered together in groups and created structures throughout history. The perception of security that emanates from belonging is critical to spiritual health and the basis for community.
The fear of aloneness is greater than the fear of death and might suggest to why some people end their lives. It is why people created rituals and ceremonies which have been evident throughout history. Aboriginals used drumming ceremonies, other cultures developed chants and most developed instruments to create music. This musical resonance attested to something finite, although beyond our reach and understanding. These sounds once created were not lost but always returned to bring assurance of the limits of space and to assuage the insecurity of just being.
In today’s world this certainty has been challenged. As modern society rapidly approaches another of life’s meltdown points, the need for belief and belonging has never been greater. A belief anchored in a foundation that is tangible, durable and secure yet, flexible enough to allow motion – a rhythm that is but life itself.
We have created technologies that can span distances hitherto undreamed. People are now able to communicate beyond even the expanses of the earth and far into the universe, in fact, communications media have been created utilizing this space. Signals are now sent out with anticipated return several years hence. It is contemplated that scientists can reach beyond our universe. As such, we have created the perception of unlimited reach and no boundaries.
This perception of endlessness is the cause of our present global consternation. With no limits or boundaries life appears out of control – a feeling for most perhaps the greatest terror of all. People today are more intellectually aware, have more personal wealth and social security than any previous generation. What they don’t have is the sense of fulfilment, the sense of accomplishment or the sense of personal satisfaction. All these are ingredients of affirmation. If I am not what I possess, what I attained or what I am titled – then who am I?
This current generation had come to believe, that logic and scientific theory could explain most things or, at least, the things that were important. Everything else was dubious and mostly the purview of fools or at best eccentrics and certainly not to be entertained in the domain of such an advanced educated society. But, as these theories are exploded, scientific knowledge found wanting and logic proven less than trustworthy, a whole generation has been left in chaos.
People have become very unsure of what and who to believe or trust? Certainly, not most conventional religions, who years ago betrayed the trust people willingly provided them. Definitely not politicians, who are nearing the nadir of their trust after promising whatever folks desired – their legacy only increased taxation, public debt and diminished democracy. Even the new mantra of support for the private sector rings hollow. The leaders of business, the domain which has provided material wealth beyond the dreams of prior generations, are rapidly loosing their lustre. Their erosion of jobs, the mechanism that enabled such shared wealth, provides one of the greatest threats in developed societies.
The answer for many is, increasingly, to retreat; there are mass movements back to rural roots, growing enrolment in programs relating to ancient teachings, and considerable exploration of mystical ancient ceremonies. The efforts of those more desperate and disenfranchised are responsible for the growing drug culture, the growing increase in suicide, especially among young people and the increasing attraction to cult worship. So frantic are some for affirmation and to belong that they reach out to those at the fringes – for at least these people have galvanized around some belief, no matter how negative.
The way out of the dilemma is as old as the human race, as ancient as civilization and perhaps resulted from the earliest attempts at dispelling the fear of being alone. People banded together and in so doing learned respect, developed trust and began relationships to achieve common aims. These groupings created foundations with which to access collective abilities, and were obviously seen as mechanisms to enable better lifestyles and more security for all involved in these earliest of civil movements. Maybe, it was at this juncture that the human dimension of idealism was discovered.
Each generation contributes new ideals in attempts to perfect these original beginnings, adding innovations and their concepts of improvements. All such efforts appear to eventually culminate in some similar chaos to that now being experienced, some ending in the bitterness of war as witnessed in the last generations and evidenced in many parts of the world today. These generational ideals appear to become replaced with dogma, rules and regulation. People forget the reality of why they needed each other, why they organized and why there was need to develop basic rules. In fact, so concerned do people become with doing what’s right (according to the rules) they neglect what is the right thing to do.
Yet, the initial reasons were most simple. People needed to come together to provide the reflection needed to gain affirmation, and to generate the assurance of being part of something integrated rather than individuals alone in an unfathomable universe. It would appear that these initial objectives only become evident when people have demystified all the myths that were created in order to maintain participation. Then it becomes necessary to create a new beginning.
The material for such a base is inherent within us all. Fundamentally it is the reality of our physical being, the durability of our spiritual nature and the security of being part of a natural environment which is as constant as time itself. Nature’s changing milieu is to be anticipated and acknowledged rather than feared. Such innate capabilities are apparent in those that aspire to accomplishment although disadvantaged, those who overcome personal tragedy and those that take us beyond our current understanding and beliefs.
What is clearly evident in such people is they all espouse a common strength, a confidence in themselves and a faith in being part of something which is greater than themselves. It is apparent that they all come to accept themselves as they are and are not limited by any physical, mental or spiritual deficiency. They all seem to recognize that life itself is perfection and the only need is for self acceptance in order to achieve the full richeness of living – that of affirmation.
All too readily, people are willing to exchange self belief for belief in others, in structures or institutions. What they fail to comprehend is, that in so doing, they are creating limits to their own natural talents and capabilities instead of establishing personal foundations for greater achievements, accomplishments and subsequently affirmation of life itself. These foundations can only emanate from awareness and understanding of oneself, the environment one inhabits and of those who share it.
When such awareness is evident, human advancement and societal improvement will again be demonstrated. People will appreciate the true meaning of community and the strength that emanates from collective will and independent spirit. The foundation of human society once more will have been ever so slightly enhanced by the ideals and follies of yet another generation.